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Byrd, Rahall Dedicate Hinton Technology Center

Posted by kinchendavid on August 12, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV  – A rainy day in Hinton didn’t keep hundreds of people from attending the dedication of the Hinton Technology Center, Friday, Aug. 11, 2006, where U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-WV was the keynote speaker and honored guest.

Byrd, the state’s senior senator and a major force behind the development of the building at 301 Summers St., was introduced by U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-WV, who in turn was introduced by Admiral Joseph Lopez, US Navy (Ret.), president of Information Manufacturing Co., one of the building’s newest tenants.

Byrd and Rahall were instrumental in securing financing for the 72,000-square-foot structure, which opened in December 2005. Construction began in September 2004.

Current tenants include Man Tech International Corp, employing an estimated 80 workers and occupying an entire floor and TSM, both formerly located in City Hall. CSC, occupying a building in the city’s west end, was expected to be a tenant in the Technology Center, but HNN has been unable to get anyone to speak on the matter. Among the other technology firms in Hinton are Information Manufacturing Co., PracticeLink and Knowledge Systems Inc. Total employment of the six companies is estimated at 130.

Byrd partnered with Rahall and local officials, beginning in the administration of former Mayor James Leslie Jr. in 2000 to secure federal funding for the building. Funding in the amount of $3.6 million was obtained, Byrd noted, matched by additional state and federal funding to enable construction of the building, designed by Lewisburg architect Dan Hart and constructed by Swope Construction Co. of Bluefield, WV.

Byrd said the initial effort of Leslie and the Hinton City Council continued when Mayor Cleo Mathews was elected in 2001. Byrd said she “masterfully leveraged those federal funds to obtain additional dollars to complete this glorious building.”

According to Byrd’s comments, distributed by Tom Gavin, his press secretary, CSC and Man Tech were the original tenants for the proposed building. TSM is a partner with Man Tech and the additional tenants are expected to be joined by future technology firms to take advantage of what both Byrd and Rahall called the central anchor in a technology corridor extending from Huntington through to Beckley, Hinton and Lewisburg, with Bluefield serving as an outlying center.

Byrd noted that when he was first elected to the House of Delegates 60 years ago, West Virginia had 132,000 coal mining jobs. Today 16,000 miners do the work of the 132,000: “Mining and manufacturing have been declining while jobs in the service sector have been increasing,” he said. “Coal and chemical industry jobs paying in the $50,000 to $60,000 range are being replaced by the service industries, often at lower wage levels.”

The senator told the audience that West Virginia has the talent and education to fill jobs in high technology, with the state’s colleges and universities “producing more graduates with greater skills in information technology fields. Our goal is to provide the opportunities that enable our graduates to pick up the local want ads and find good paying jobs in West Virginia, rather than to have to look to the likes of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cincinnati or Washington, D.C.”

Both Rahall and Byrd referenced Rahall’s 3-T concept – Transportation, Tourism and Technology. “It’s a solid plan,” Byrd told the audience, “and we are working together to meet these goals. I might add one more ‘T’ – Teamwork. We’ve got no better example of teamwork and technology bringing success than right here in Summers County.”

After Mathews unveiled a plaque for the building honoring Byrd, Mathews, Rahall and Byrd cut a ribbon declaring the Hinton Technology Center officially open for business.

Mike Ferrell, press secretary of Friends of Robert C. Byrd based in Charleston, WV, told HNN at the dedication ceremony that a series of debates proposed by John Raese, Byrd’s Republican opponent, is “not off the table.”.” We’ll take a look at the end of August for September and October dates.” Raese has proposed a series of debates in different regions of West Virginia.

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